Today the new generation Lifeblog – Nokia Photos 1.0 application was released by Nokia.
To quote Nseries web site: “Nokia Photos is a PC application designed to let you do more with your images. Just download the application to your compatible PC and you’re ready to edit, back-up, organize, print, convert, and share all the pictures and videos from your compatible PC to your device, as well as your favorite online photofeeds. And you can stop worrying about formats, codecs, resizing, or the other headaches of photo and video management. It’s easy to use, works with all Nokia Nseries devices, and is completely free to download – both as an individual application and as part of the Nokia Nseries PC Suite 2.0.”
Downloading a 48.5Mb installable was rather quick. First request from the installer was to install “Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 SP1 Redistributable Package”. Nice one, but I’d say – too much information. If it is required – itstall it, don’t ask me if I want to install it. Clicking ok. Next thing that installer told me was “Dot net 3.0 cannot be found. Please install it from this link: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=70848. Installation was aborted.
Ok, going to Microsoft web site to download another 50Mb worth of stuff. I wouldn’t like to be on dial-up for this installation. After installing .NET framework I restarted Nokia Photos installation and this time it went smooth.
One huge improvement compared to beta version – this release does not uninstall Nokia Lifeblog, if it is installed on the same computer. The two seem to peacefully coexist.
First start of the Photos application took about a minute – with just logo hanging in the middle of the screen. After that I was asked if I would like to import data from Lifeblog into Nokia Photos.
I decided not to import old data just yet, since I was warned by the application that it might take some time. After that application froze for about 20 seconds – as it became clear later it was detecting my phone connected to the PC via bluetooth. After phone was successfully detected Nokia Photos asked if I would like to set up automatic item copying.
After playing with the application settings for a while I decided to import my old Lifeblog data, but couldn’t find how to do it from the menu. Fortunately I have chosen to be reminded to import old items on next Photos start – otherwise I wouldn’t know how to get my data into Photos.
Importing 26.000 items from old database took more than 15,5 hours. No time estimate was given for this operation, just percentage gauge and “X of Y items converted” message that was updated for each 25 items. Somewhere around 60% my thoughts were “waiting that long? it better be good”.
Importing reported a few errors in the end: “Some items could not be imported since there was an error or the file format is not supported by Nokia Photos.”. I couldn’t copy a list of failed items, so now I don’t know how to check which items I lost.
Unfortunately after dismissing import failed dialog Nokia Photos crashed with “Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation”. Restarting the application and restarting the computer didn’t help – now Photos crash on application start. All my data is still accessible in Lifeblog 2.5, but I couldn’t complete this Nokia Photos review.
Waiting for feedback from the development team – I’ll update this blogpost as soon as the problem is fixed. Hopefully the problem concerns only import of large databases.
Update 16 Jan 2008: allmighty Photos development team did some magic with my database and the application started to work. A fix for this particular case will be available in the next version of Photos application.
But now to the new features in Nokia Photos 1.0.
- “Organise” view
The biggest change is that timeline view with all context information is now just secondary view. The main view is Picasa-like folder/albums based “Organise” view that contains only images and videos. After Lifeblog data is imported there are several albums created “Lifeblog 2001”, “Lifeblog 2002”, etc. Search is almost as powerful as in Timeline view – calendar entries, automatic location tags, etc. are taken into account. The only thing missing is proximity searching – when a related sms can be found next to the picture that you are actually looking for.
Now synchronisation with the mobile start automatically when it appears in PC vicinity. Synchronisation also runs in the background, so it is possible to continue using application while it is downloading latest pictures and messages from the mobile.
Synchronisation with my N81 via bluetooth was a bit problematic – I had to restart Photos and N81 several times before it actually started. Same phone and same computer synced just fine with Lifeblog 2.5.
To copy data from PC to the phone items now have to be placed into a special album called “Sync Tray”. I find it more confusing than special “To Phone” view in Lifeblog 2.5. Generalisation is good only until it becomes counter-intuitive. Yes, “To Phone” is technically just another album, but at the same time it is used for something totally different. It is the same story as with the Favourites in Lifeblog 2.5 – “favourite” is technically just another tag, but it is not a good enough reason to put it into the tag manager.
Favourites view is back (was replaced in Lifeblog 2.5 with special tag). Now there’s an album called Favourites where user is able to see all items marked as favourite. On the downside – it is not possible to mark item favourit by selecting “Make favourite” from context menu – you need to drag and drop it to Favourites album or select Add to Album->Favourites.
Tag manager in Lifeblog 2.5 was awful. In Photos it became a tag cloud. It looks really good, and is easy to use. For some reason help files refer to Tools->Open Tag Manager and to the icon in toolbar, while in reality it is in View->Open Tag Manager and is the icon is on the right side of the window.
Show/Hide is back (was mutilated in Lifeblog 2.5 where it became a part of tag manager functionality and had a negative logic – you had to deselect item time to make it visible) – now it is easy again to select which content types to display.
- “Flip item”
This eye-candy feature (activated by Ctrl+M) flips an item and shows location and content tags on its back .
- “Make movee”
This feature allows to edit videos – similar to what can be done on Nseries mobiles with Movee. I’m sure fans of home-made videos will love this feature.
- “Order Prints”
Allows to print photos using selected service providers in some countries. Interesting that this feature appeared in Nokia product when people started to prefer to keep their pictures in digital form.
Nokia Photos is considerably slower than Lifeblog 2.5 – from application startup, to scrolling through thumbnails to opening full screen images. It is painfully slow. Sometimes it just freezes for 20-30 seconds without any indication of what it is actually doing.
Organise and Timeline views in one application created a Frankenstein monster. These are two completely different approaches to data organisation, and that kind of mix is really confusing. I believe that applciation developers should give their vision to the user, rather than overwhelm with features and customisation possibilites and force him/her to make choices.
Nokia Photos is an interesting experiment, but I would wait at least until next release before considering it as a primary application for content organisation. Bad performance kills the cumulative positive effect of the new design, eye-candies and new features.